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Avalanche playoffs

A SYMPHONY: Colorado Avalanche Play Almost Perfect Defensive Game 2



Colorado Avalanche
Jack Dempsey/AP

I’m still racking my brain here, and I can only remember one or two really dangerous offensive chances tonight. Maybe I’m missing a couple, but I doubt it. Truly, I think that was as perfect a game as a team can play tonight. The Colorado Avalanche are two games away from the Stanley Cup Finals, and it seems doubtful the Edmonton Oilers are going to stand in their way.

The Avalanche have just shown themselves to be too powerful for the Oilers to handle. The Avs are dominating with puck-possession time, and that’s how you beat a team with guys like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on it.

“It was incredible. Our detail tonight and our focus was just exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted to turn it up a notch. We understood last game probably wasn’t sustainable for the whole series. Obviously, they’re a high-octane team,” said Nazem Kadri (three assists). “I think we did a great job defensively. Frankie made some big saves, so all of that put together results in a shutout. So, I was very proud of the guys for that.”

What a game this team played tonight. It was just a symphony of strong, fundamental defense, combined with an aggressive offensive forward group. And, right or wrong, I think Pavel Francouz is the No. 1 goalie moving forward for the Colorado Avalanche.

Darcy Kuemper remained out with an upper-body injury, and Francouz looked strong in net – even if he didn’t have to do a ton of work. He seemed aggressive to the shooter, more active side to side than had Kuemper of late. Kuemper had been playing deep in his net of late; Francouz was out challenging guys, but at the same time looking quick side-to-side.

By the end of the game, fans were chanting “Frankie, Frankie!”

“Some things are hard to describe,” Francouz said after the game. “It was a full team effort tonight.”

The Avs limited McDavid and Draisaitl to a combined five shots on net.

“I think the third period is the one that almost really hurt us last game. I think the way we learned about it, we didn’t stop playing this time in the third,” Mikko Rantanen (goal) said. “We kept going and kept forechecking and staying on the pucks in the O-zone and I think that was a big difference.”

The Avs played a dramatically better game defensively than Tuesday night. They didn’t give Edmonton much of anything all night, just always playing with the puck more.

I thought the Avs just were so good in their own end, making good breakouts and smart outlet passes. They capitalized on enough chances to make it a rout of sorts.

Nathan MacKinnon took a slash (we think it was actually a puck to the right hand from a slap shot from Cale Makar) toward the end of the game and was seen shaking his hand and being talked to by the trainer, so that’s something to keep an eye on moving forward.

Otherwise, it was about as perfect a night as you could get. Josh Manson, Artturi Lehkonen, MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen scored goals for the Avs. Now it’s on to Edmonton for Games 3 and 4, starting Saturday night.

Here’s Frankie taking a twirl as the game’s No. 1 star:

Terry Frei and Kelsey Hammond contributed to this report

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